The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”

Carl Sagan, Contact  From


Science Fiction Films:  Frequently about aliens, and sometimes about us.  This site lists/discusses films through the history of SF.

  • Doctor Who: “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances” (a two-part episode)
  • Alien
  • The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • 2005 film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (for comparison with the novel and discussion of how the aliens are envisioned and constructed by the filmmakers)
  • Star Trek


Short Stories

  • “Each an Explorer” by Isaac Asimov
  • “The Man Who Devoured Books” by John Sladek
  • They’re Made Out of Meat” by Terry Bisson
  • “Homelanding” by Margaret Atwood
    • A review of “Homelanding” that addresses an extremely common theme in alien-related SF:   “But then, maybe these aliens are not supposed to be realistic in the first place (this is, after all, speculative fiction – so does reality even apply?). They are walking, talking metaphors, presenting (however dressed up) the best and worst of humanity – our foibles and insecurities, our loneliness and frustration, our optimism, our hope. Sci-fi stories are cautionary tales, allegories, parables – written by humans, reflecting human thoughts and ideas and emotions, intended for a distinctly human audience. Their messages may vary from story to story, but the underlying significance is always the same: by presenting their ideas in the realm of the extreme, the creators of these stories are able to teach us just a little more about ourselves.
      That brings us to Margaret Atwood’s beautiful little Homelanding. While many writers of speculative fiction strive to make aliens seem human (but not too human, mind you), Atwood has, through the unconventional use of words and language, done the exact opposite – she has made human beings seem more alien than we could ever imagine. With a simple two-page story, Atwood has turned the conventions of the sci-fi genre inside out. She forces us to look at something old in a new way, and (as is the case with even the most bizarre science fiction) we learn something about ourselves in the process. So maybe, in the end, the story isn’t so different after all.”
    • Aliens have taken the place of angels” Margaret Atwood on aliens in the Guardian

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Check this out!  A high-res photo of MARS–just zoom in, explore, and imagine for a moment that you’re really there.